Tech wrap: Myspace sale saga nears end

June 9, 2011

An investor group involving Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is in final talks to take a controlling stake in News Corp’s social network site Myspace, according to a source familiar with the matter. Kotick’s involvement is personal and nothing to do with Activision at this stage, the source said.

News Corp, which paid $580 million for Myspace in 2005, had hoped to do a deal valuing Myspace at about $100 million, but sources said it was unlikely to achieve that target.

Major U.S. banks came under growing pressure from banking regulators to improve the security of customer account information after Citigroup became the latest high-profile victim of a large-scale cyber attack. While Citigroup insisted the breach had been limited, experts called it the largest direct attack on a major U.S. financial institution, and forecast it could drive momentum for a systemic overhaul of the banking industry’s data security measures.

Citigroup said that computer hackers breached the bank’s network and accessed the data of about 200,000 bank card holders in North America. Citi waited more than a month before making the full extent of the breach public, drawing criticism from lawmakers and lawyers.

Apple backtracked on demands it planned to impose on media sold through its App Store, handing a big victory to content publishers that had resisted its original terms. Apple is now allowing publishers to set their own pricing for subscriptions outside the App Store. It also no longer requires publishers to sell subscriptions within the App Store. IPad and iPhone users can now read magazines and books, or play music and videos bought outside of Apple’s App Store as long as there is no button or external link in it to purchase the content, the company said.

Microsoft suffered a defeat when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a record $290 million jury verdict against the software giant for infringing small Canadian company i4i’s patent.

Sprint unveiled the Photon 4G, Motorola’s first phone to be based on the carrier’s new WiMax technology. Motorola initially held off producing WiMax phones — touted as faster than current devices — as Verizon Wireless and AT&T moved to rival high-speed technologies. The Motorola Photon 4G sports a 4.3-inch qHD display, 1GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of built-in memory, a kickstand for handsfree viewing, and is Sprint’s first world Android phone, operating on CDMA and GSM frequencies.

HP will begin selling its TouchPad on July 1 in the U.S., debuting the first tablet computer powered by Palm’s operating software. The TouchPad features a 9.7-inch XGA display, a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and NFC capability. The 16GB version will sell for $499.99 and and a 32GB version for $599.99, HP said. A 3G version for the AT&T network will be available sometime this summer.

Nokia said its technology chief was on indefinite leave after a media report of strategy disagreements. Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat said CTO Richard Green had disagreed with CEO Stephen Elop over Nokia’s Microsoft-focused smartphone strategy and might not return. Nokia confirmed that Green was on leave and said it was for personal reasons. Speaking at a conference in London, Elop did not mention the matter but was pushed to deny that the company was for sale amid increasingly loud talk that its plunging market value has made it a target.

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